Troup plans to ask aldermen to ask Board of Fire and Police Commissioners to extend 12-month offer to Lewin

Stakeholders press conference

From left, alderman Mike Rein (R-5), Mayor Mike Troup and alderman Jack Holtschlag (D-7) address questions from the media during Monday morning's press conference in the City Council chambers. | David Adam

QUINCY — Quincy Mayor Mike Troup and two aldermen plan to ask the City Council at tonight’s weekly meeting to request that the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners extend their probationary offer with Jonathan Lewin to become the chief of police from six months to one year.

Troup and aldermen Mike Rein (R-5) and Jack Holtschlag (D-7) were members of the stakeholder group that was part of the April 28-29 interview process for the three candidates for chief — Lewin, a 28-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department; Shannon Pilkington, deputy chief of operations with the Quincy Police Department, and Adam Yates, deputy chief of administrative services with the Quincy Police Department. 

Troup, Rein and Holtschlag called a press conference Monday morning in City Council chambers to talk about the process. Two other members of the stakeholders group — Angela Caldwell, director of workforce development for the Great River Economic Development Foundation, and Julie Bonansinga, president of Bonansinga & Associates, LLC, Inter-Connect Employment Services LLC and Industrial Workforce Ltd. — did not attend.

“I think we need to (extend the probationary offer),” Troup said. “When the city hires any other director level position, we do that in a way that they’re in a probationary period. But as they’re showing up for work, they’re working on the objectives. They may not get things done as fast as myself or the aldermen would like to see done. As long as they’re working toward that path, generally, this council is going to work with them. 

“When you’re an outsider coming in, if anything, you need more time than less time to work through and get an understanding of where we are and what’s happening within the department.”

Lewin said in an interview last Friday that he was “still reviewing some things.”

He called the six-month appointment “kind of unusual.”

Troup says Lewin is getting ‘mixed signals’

Troup said he learned of the intention to offer a six-month probationary appointment when the commissioners went into executive session during their May 2 meeting when Lewin was announced as the top candidate.

“Jonathan says this is a good opportunity, but he believes he is getting mixed signals as to, ‘Do the commissioners really want me? Are they looking for reasons to find something that kicks me out of the process?’” Troup said. “He’s been trying to get some clarification on that. I don’t know if any of us were offered a position (and) you’ve got to quit your job, move to a different community, and you’re going to be here for six months … and then we’re going to determine do you stay longer or not?” 

Commissioner Barry Cheyne said Troup had told the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners he wanted the length of the contract offer to be something less than three years.

“He suggested one or two,” Cheyne said. “(The commissioners and Troup) discussed the pros and cons, back and forth, of the six-month (appointment). He said, ‘Well, maybe six months is not enough time.’ That’s when we said, ‘If you need to, then just come back, and we could extend the six months.’ The reasonable person (would say) if the candidate hasn’t had the appropriate amount of time to meet the performance measures, then give them adequate time to do so.

“(The commissioners) talked about it and thought, let’s just see what Lewin’s going to bring bring to the table and how he initiates his actions. That fostered the conversation if he needed an additional six months, I don’t think anybody would have a problem with that.”

Cheyne said commissioners would ‘consider’ 12-month offer

Asked if the commission would be willing to extend a 12-month probationary agreement to Lewin, Cheyne replied, “We’ll have to discuss it (during Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners). I’m not going to say one way or another. Whatever the request is, we’ll consider it.”

Troup said he negotiated the compensation and benefits package with Lewin. 

“That call wasn’t even 10 minutes,” he said. “That conversation was easy … easier than I expected, honestly.”

Troup sad he didn’t know how many conversations Cheyne had with Lewin since the job offer was made on May 2. “I would expect there was a couple.” he said.

Asked he if had talked with the commissioners about any changes to the offer made to Lewin, Troup said, “I have, originally on that Monday a week ago, when they first told me about it. But I haven’t had another subsequent conversation with any of the commissioners.”

Troup added that if aldermen make the request to extend the probationary appointment to 12 months, he would take that request to Tuesday morning’s Board of Fire and Police Commissioners meeting.

Cheyne said he spoke with Lewin to congratulate him on Monday. He then followed on Tuesday to explain the medical screening, polygraph test, psychological exam and background checks that needed to be completed. He said he hasn’t since talked with Lewin.

Asked if the six-month appointment is the main sticking point, Troup said, “That and some of the other contingent things. He’s had background checks. He’s fine with doing another background check. He’s fine with sharing medical information. Does he want to go through another psychological (test)? He’s had all those other tests done. He’s questioning why wasn’t that done beforehand? That’s part of the questioning of the overall plan that has given him some uncomfortableness.”

Troup says background checks, medical tests normally done ‘up front’; Cheyne says that’s not the case

Troup said background checks and other requirements for hiring a police officer or a firefighter are done “up front” as part of the screening.

“I was surprised when I went back to the stakeholders to say, ‘Here’s the other contingent offers, and now we’re going to go do the background check. Now we’re going to do all these other things,’” he said. “That really seems to be backwards from any other process that’s been used.”

However, Cheyne said last week in an email the screening requirements for the new police chief are the same as any police officer hiring. He said all screening actions are completed after a written test (or an assessment in Lewin’s case), interviews and a certification list being published (or an appointment offer in Lewin’s case). 

“We’re not going to commit city resources and the QPD’s time and effort to conduct a background until these steps are completed,” he wrote.

Troup said he didn’t know the process for how Lewin was selected as the top choice.

“I don’t know how (the commissioners) calculated it, but I learned (the morning of May 2) that Jonathan Lewin had the (best) score,” he said. “(The stakeholders group) didn’t do anything but interview the candidates and make our selection. We didn’t know exactly how the formula was going to work in that process.”

Rein said he was comfortable with the process.

“This was done correctly and unanimously,” he said. “All eight of us — the (three) commissioners and the stakeholder group — unanimously chose Lewin. The fact that he’s not here is kind of shocking to me. He’s not here because there’s some holdup (with the) commissioners, and we need to get moving on this. The city’s not holding this thing up.”

Ranking of police chief candidates

Lewin rankYates rankPilkington rank
Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police (20 percent)2 x 0.2 = 0.41 x 0.2 = 0.23 x 0.2 = 0.6
Board of Police and Fire Commissioners (40 percent)2 x 0.4 = 0.81 x 0.4 = 0.43 x 0.4 = 1.2
Stakeholder group (40 percent)1 x 0.4 = 0.43 x 0.4 = 1.22 x 0.4 = 0.8
Total score (lowest score wins)1.61.82.6

After learning of scoring process, Rein says, ‘That’s news to me’

Commissioner Steve Meckes told Muddy River News after the May 2 meeting of the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners that the Illinois Police Chiefs Association and the commissioners were unanimous in their selection of Yates as the top candidate for the position.

“And Troup’s hand-selected group of stakeholders was unanimous in selecting Jonathan Lewin,” Meckes said last week. “So, there was a division among the groups.”

Rein was asked what he thought about fact the stakeholders ranked Yates last and the other two groups ranked him first.

“Well, what you just said, it’s all news to me. I never heard that,” Rein said. “What (Cheyne) told us last Monday was Lewin was the unanimous pick of the police and fire commissioners. That’s what he said right here at this podium. That’s not what we heard, when Barry stood up here and announced that Lewin was their pick. Based on their formula, we were told (the stakeholders) got 40 percent of vote, the commissioners got 40 percent and the chiefs of police got 20. There’s 60 percent. See? There’s a problem. That begs the question. Where did this answer come from? I don’t get it. 

“As far as we’re concerned, that’s the end. Now it’s done. Now it’s up to the mayor and City Council to accept that pick or reject it, and we accepted it. I’m not sure why we’re not going full speed ahead down the road. And this whole notion of a six-month probation in the 11th hour is ridiculous. You don’t treat people like that. The job is at will, so he’s got the job until he screws up.”

“I thought the best candidate was hired for a position,” Holtschlag said. “Any other director we sign, they’re with a one-year contract right off the get-go.”

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